Big 12 holding off on title game push

The Big 12 wants the option to play a conference championship

football game with only 10 members. That doesn’t mean it will.

Speaking at a function for Oklahoma State’s Spears School of

Business, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said it doesn’t make good

business sense right now for the Big 12 to have a championship

game.

”Take a look at the attendance on the conference championship

games this year and take a look at the TV ratings,” Bowlsby said.

”They aren’t the kind of things that are going to invite you to

take that up as a new business proposition.”

Bowlsby said late last month the league will seek permission

from the NCAA to be able to hold a title game with 10 teams.

Current NCAA rules require leagues to have at least 12 members to

hold a football title game.

Bowlsby said Wednesday that proposal is intended to deregulate

how conferences are allowed to determine a champion.

”If that includes a playoff between two high-ranked teams,

that’s fine,” Bowlsby said. ”If it requires a playoff between the

winners of two divisions, that’s fine. But it shouldn’t have to be

two six-team divisions. It could be two five-team divisions. It

just seems like an obvious place where deregulation makes a lot of

sense.”

The Big 12 hasn’t had a title game the past two seasons. This

past season, Kansas State and Oklahoma were co-champions, though

K-State earned the league’s BCS bid by beating Oklahoma

head-to-head to break the tie.

Bowlsby also addressed the topic of football scheduling.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said last week that Big

Ten schools had agreed to no longer schedule FCS teams in the

future. Big 12 schools have made no such agreement, although

Bowlsby said he’s discussed the issue of beefing up football (and

basketball) schedules with league presidents and athletic

directors.

With the new four-team playoff to decide the national

championship coming in 2014, Bowlsby said it would behoove Big 12

schools to play stronger nonconference opponents.

”In the end, how you get seeded, whether you access the

tournament, often relies on who you play in the nonconference,”

Bowlsby said. ”You don’t often have anything to say about who you

play in the conference schedule, but you have everything to say

about who play in your nonconference. If you’re the fifth-rated

team and you’ve played nobody, there may be a sixth-rated team who

played a representative schedule that gets bounced over the top of

you.”

The Big 12 has discussed scheduling alliances with the Atlantic

Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference other conferences, to

help create more attractive and challenging games. Bowlsby said

”that will allow us to ensure our TV partners of good matches and

also give us a little more strength in the nonconference

schedule.”

He said he expects there will be unbeaten teams left out of the

four-team playoff ”simply because there’s somebody with one loss

that is deemed to be a better team.”

He said he plans to talk scheduling with the league’s football

coaches soon.

Bowlsby also said the formation of the committee that will pick

the four teams for the upcoming football playoff is progressing. He

said it will be larger than the NCAA Division I basketball

tournament committee, of which he was the chairman in 2004 and

2005. The committee could possibly even have former or current

media members, he said.

”It will have a composition that includes people that are not

on campuses or in conference offices,” he said. ”There will be

people with solid football backgrounds. How big it will be, it

could be 16, it could be 18, it could be 24. We haven’t refined it

to that point yet.

”We have begun working around the metrics with which we’ll arm

the members of that committee. It will be a lot more, obviously,

than just taking the six or eight polls that are available to them

and regurgitating what those things have to say. We need to work

hard on formulating tools that will allow us to differentiate one

good team from another good team. . It’s a process that cries out

for the best thinkers we can get.”

At a meeting April 23 in southern California, the site of the

first championship game could be finalized and ”we’ll know a lot

more about the composition and rudiments of the committee,” he

said. ”I’d say that we’re right on the time frame.”